By Sarah Kelly
The approach of Halloween brings with it the memories of sights and sounds of the same dark October night of years past. We are taken back to evenings spent trick-or-treating through neighborhood streets, in jovial spirits despite the brazen cold. The black sky seemed to be lit only by the golden glow of jack-o-lanterns and the grey moon overhead. We returned home after our journey content and flushed-cheeked, weighed down by pillowcases filled with treasure.
Halloween remains a magical time. For one night, we are brought out of our modern lives and take part the folklore that remains embedded in our culture. It is not merely another Hallmark holiday, but one fueled by history stemming from ancient Celtic tradition.
The celebration of All Hallows Eve is wrought with rituals, from trips to the pumpkin patch to horror movie marathons; however, it seems to have been left out of the baking realm.
With Halloween comes all of the wonders that candy can provide, so why not try a hand at making your own? Creating treats from scratch becomes a step away from consumerism: a means to invest significance in this autumnal celebration by way of the kitchen.
If creating homemade confections sounds like a daunting experience, do not fear. Traditional candy-making is essentially a scientific rather than a culinary process, involving expensive thermometers and quite a lot of stress. I have learned from my last fudge-making experience, which resulted in a pan of burnt butter and tears, that this is a pursuit best left for the professionals. I have discovered, however, that there are indeed ways of making much simpler and equally gratifying delicacies from scratch without causing a single worry. I have included a recipe for a candy treat that I hope will enhance the merriment of this whimsical celebration.
The idea for these chocolate truffle lollipops came from a recipe by Giada De Laurentis from her book “Giada at Home.” These pops are little bites of heaven made of rich chocolate ganache centers covered by another layer of melted chocolate and topped with sprinkles. The addition of cinnamon in the chocolate centers adds a sweet hint of the season. I have adapted the recipe to simplify the process, eliminating the need for a double boiler or any other toilsome steps. In fact, the only appliance you will need is a microwave, ideal for the busy college student. The recipe makes about 30 lollipops.
For the truffles:
1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips.
¾ a cup of heavy cream
½ a teaspoon of cinnamon
For the toppings:
½ cup bittersweet chocolate chips
Place the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for 30 seconds to one minute or until melted. Add in the cream slowly while stirring with a spatula. The mixture may appear lumpy at first, but keep stirring for about a minute until it reaches a velvety and smooth texture. Set in the refrigerator for two hours.
Next, line a large baking tray or plate with parchment paper. Remove the truffle mixture from the fridge. With a teaspoon, create round pieces slightly smaller than a golf ball. Roll the truffles using your hands in order to create perfect spheres. Place the chocolates in rows on the tray, and insert a toothpick into the center of each one. If serving to children, I would suggest using actual lollipop sticks, available at craft stores.
Place the tray back into the fridge for about 10 minutes in order for the pops to solidify. The next step is to prepare the toppings.
In another bowl, melt the ½ cup of chocolate chips in the microwave as before. Set out the melted chocolate, and pour out the chocolate sprinkles into a separate bowl. Dip each lollipop first into the melted chocolate, then into the sprinkles and place back onto the tray. Store the pops in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
You can use your creativity when decorating. The possibilities here are endless; you could dip the truffles in white chocolate for instance, or top with powdered sugar instead of sprinkles. The combination of sophistication and fun in these little lollipops makes them equally at home passed around at a cocktail party or sold at a bake sale. I hope this recipe will be fun to make and perhaps become one of your own autumn traditions. Best wishes for a delightful Halloween.